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Health Matters - Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Health Matters - Breast Cancer Awareness Month
10 October 2018

Dr Paul Bowen, clinical chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group and GP with McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton

Did you know that breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK? Many people don’t, and that’s why we’re supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) to raise awareness of signs and symptoms.

Breast cancer accounts for almost 15 per cent of all cancer cases in males and females combined. This amounts to more than 55,000 new cases per year, with around 350 in Eastern Cheshire.

Early detection of breast cancer is crucial, as it makes the condition easier to treat and means you’re less likely to need chemotherapy or a mastectomy (breast removal).

Breast cancer screening is one method of discovering the condition early, and women aged 50 to 70 in England are invited to attend a free breast screening appointment, which involves having an X-ray of your breast. Screening is important as it can spot cancers when they’re too small to see or feel, and those diagnosed at stage one or two have a survival rate of over 95 per cent.

Although Eastern Cheshire remains above the national average for breast screening attendance, it’s disappointing to see that there has been a downward trend in uptake both locally and nationally in recent years.

However, screening isn’t the only way to identify signs of breast cancer. Checking yourself monthly is another way to spot changes in your body, which can aid in early detection.Some of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • a change in size or shape
  • a lump or area that feels thicker than the rest of the breast
  • a change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling (like the skin of an orange)
  • redness or rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
  • your nipple has become pulled in or looks different, for example changed its position or shape
  • liquid that comes from the nipple without squeezing
  • pain in your breast or your armpit that’s there all or almost all of the time
  • a swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone.

Many symptoms, such as breast pain or a lump, may in fact be caused by normal breast changes or a minor breast condition. However, if you notice a change, it’s important to see your GP as soon as you can. It is also important to remember that breast cancer can affect men too, with an average of 400 men being diagnosed every year.

In any case, if you’re worried about breast health or breast cancer, you can call Breast Cancer Care for free on 0808 800 6000.